User:Bilhartz/747th Tank Battalion (United States)
|Active||5 May 1942 – 6 March 1946
9 December 1946 – 31 January 1954
|Part of||Independent Unit|
|Disbanded||31 January 1954|
|747th Tank Battalion Distinctive Unit Insignia|
The 747th Tank Battalion was an independent tank battalion that participated in the European Theater of Operations with the United States Army in World War II. It was credited with an assault landing at Normandy, landing the morning after the initial D-Day landings (D+1). The battalion participated in combat operations throughout northern Europe until V-E Day, primarily attached to the 29th Infantry Division. After the war it was briefly engaged in occupation duties. Redesignated the 747th Amphibian Tank Battalion on 14 July 1945, it was inactivated in March 1946.
The battalion was reactivated in December 1946 as a reserve unit. The unit was called into active military service as the 747th Amphibious Tank and Tractor Battalion at the start of the Korean War but did not deploy overseas. It was released from active duty in September 1953 and inactivated in January 1954.
The 747th Tank Battalion followed the standard organization of a U.S. medium tank battalion during World War II. It consisted of a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Service Company, three medium tank companies (Companies A, B, and C) and a light tank company (Company D).
- The Headquarters Company included the battalion headquarters staff, both officers and enlisted men; an assault gun platoon, consisting of three Sherman tank variants armed with a short-barreled 105 mm assault gun, and an additional three assault guns nominally assigned to each medium tank company, but normally operating as a second gun section in the assault gun platoon; a mortar platoon, equipped with three half-track mounted 81 mm mortars; a reconnaissance platoon with five quarter-ton “peeps” (jeeps); and the headquarters tank section consisting of two tanks for the battalion commander and operations officer. The assault gun platoon was frequently attached to the division artillery of the division to which they were attached, especially if the division had to revert to the defense or static positions.
- The Service Company included a headquarters section; a maintenance platoon; and a large battalion supply and transportation platoon, with over thirty trucks to provide logistics for the battalion.
- Companies A, B, C, and D – the tank line companies, both medium and light, all followed the same table of organization. Each company consisted of a headquarters section which, along with a small headquarters staff also included two tanks for the company commander and executive officer; and three five-tank platoons. The medium tank companies were equipped with M4 Sherman tanks, while the light tank company was equipped with M5 Stuart tanks. All four companies had their own maintenance section which included a M32 Tank Recovery Vehicle, built on a Sherman chassis. Because the Stuart carried a 4-man crew versus a 5-man crew on the Sherman, it had a lower personnel strength than then medium tank companies.
World War II History
Activation and Deployment
The 747th Tank Battalion was activated at Camp Bowie, Texas on 10 November 1942 as the 747th Tank Battalion (Medium). The battalion embarked from New York on 11 February 1944 and arrived in England on 23 February 1944.
[activities in England]
1st Inf Div (p. 5)
- 7-13 June 1944
2nd Inf Div (p. 18)
- Co B: 8-15 June 1944
- Co D: 11-15 June 1944
28th Inf Div (not in OOB, see 747th Tank Bn AAR, Sep 44; at least a portion of this time the Bn was also attached to the Third Armored Group)
- 15-26 Sep 1944
29th Inf Div (p. 126)
- 17 May-17 August 1944
- 28 September 1944-6 Mar 1945
- 29 Mar-23 July 1945
90th Inf Div (not in OOB, see 747th Tank Bn AAR, Aug 44)
- 20-23 August 1944
4th Inf Div (not in OOB, see 747th Tank Bn AAR, Aug/Sep 44)
- 28 August-6 September 1944
28th Inf Div (not in OOB, see 747th Tank Bn AAR, Sep 44)
- 15-26 September 1944
Normandy Landings and Breakout in France
Although not part of the initial assault landings for operation Overlord on 6 June 1944, the first elements of battalion landed on Omaha Beach on D+1, 7 June, at 0700. Two platoons of Company C assisted in taking Vierville-sur-Mer by 1300. By afternoon most of battalion had landed and was attached to the 175th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division for an attack on Isigny-sur-Mer. Isigny was taken by 0300 on 9 June. 
At the same time, two platoons of Company B were initially attached to 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, and advanced on Mandeville-en-Bessin.<June 1944 AAR> Similarly, Company D was attached to the 2nd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, in order to advance along the axis Trévières – Cerisy-la-Forêt – Saint-Quentin d’Elle – Saint-Georges-d’Elle. Although nominally attached to the 1st Infantry Division for the landings through 13 June, elements of the battalion had already also been attached to the 2nd Infantry Division and 29th Infantry Division, and by 15 June the battalion was attached solely to the 29th Infantry Division.  Under 29th Infantry Division control, the battalion was placed in division reserve in the vicinity of Saint-Jean-de-Savigny until 10 July, allowing them to replace lost equipment and personnel and to perform maintenance on the equipment which had been in nonstop use their first week ashore in Normandy.
After this extended reserve, the battalion supported the 29th Infantry Division as they advanced on Saint-Lô, with a platoon of Company C among the first units to enter the town on 18 July. During this advance the battalion discovered the difficulties of attacking in the famous Normandy bocage, and developed one of several hedgerow cutter tank attachments the forces in Normandy invented to penetrate the dense hedgerows. After this intense fighting the battalion again went into division reserved from 20-28 July. While in reserve, the battalion underwent a War Department-mandated reorganization, as well as conducting intense combined arms training with the infantry and engineers, and developing a more efficient hedgerow cutter similar to the “Rhino device” that was appearing in other tank units in Normandy at this time.
The battalion moved south of Saint-Lô to the vicinity of Saint-Samson-de-Bonfossé on 28 July. Despite not being committed into the line, the battalion was sporadically shelled and bombed from the air. On 1 August, the battalion supported te infantry attacks south from Saint-Lô and by 7 August had outflanked Vire to the west and were located near St.-Germain-de-Tallevende. At St. Germain, they defended against fierce local counterattacks conducted by some of the most battle-hardened German units on the Western front, including the 1st SS Panzer Division and the 116th Panzer Division, losing ten Shermans to Panzerfaust and antitank gunfire by 10 August. At this time, the light tanks from Company D were used for liaison and resupply missions for the infantry due to the large number of German infiltrators in the fluid combat situation. At least one light tank was lost behind friendly lines conducting this mission.
On 17 August, the battalion was detached from the 29th Infantry Division and attached directly to V Corps and placed on two-hour alert to move. While in this status, the battalion continued to train with the 29th, stressing combined arms operations with their infantry and artillery counterparts. On 20 August, the battalion was attached to the 90th Infantry Division, moving first to Sées and Nonant-le-Pin. The battalion was then detached from the 90th on 23 August and reverted to V Corps control. Under corps control, the 747th then rushed forward to Limours by 25 August and took up positions near Sceaux on 27 August. On 28 August, the battalion was attached to the 4th Infantry Division, crossing the Seine and advancing to Neuilly-sur-Marne on 29 August.
Continuing a rapid advance to the north with the objective of Brussels, the battalion passed to the west of Villers-Cotterêts and Soissons and through Laon. North of Laon, the battalion began to encounter retreating Germans from the west. This resulted in several sharp engagements on 2-3 September around Le Hérie-la-Viéville, Guise, and Landrecies, destroying some 50 enemy vehicles (many of them horse-drawn) while suffering only light casualties. As a result of the German pressure from the west, the battalion turned west toward Le Pomereuil. While clearing the woods to the east of the town, the battalion took some 350 prisoners.
With this threat under control, on 4 September Company A was detached and joined the 22nd Infantry Regiment as they advanced to the east, toward Rocroi. From there elements of Company A assisted in securing two bridgeheads across the Meuse River at Monthermé and Fumay on 5 September. On 6 Septmber, the battalion was relieved from attachment to the 4th Infantry Division and reassembled in the vicinity of Rocroi. 
After this rapid advance across France, the tanks were badly in need of repair. After closing on the assembly area near Rocroi, the battalion used the time to replace worn track and engines. This involved so many vehicles that the battalion had to create a “composite company” consisting of the serviceable tanks from all three medium tank companies to support offensive operations of the 4th Infantry Division. This composite company was attached directly to the 4th Infantry Division and spearheaded the drive toward Bastogne, reaching the town on 12 September.
Siegfried Line and Battle of the Bulge
Advance into Germany
The 747th Amphibian Tank Company was organized as part of the Army Organzied Reserve Corps in and around Gainesville, Florida in 1949.  It was mobilized in August 1950 and sent to Fort Worden, Washington and arrived it was reconstituted as a composite amphibious tank and tractor battalion. Approximately half of its enlisted personnel were then reassigned to the newly organized 89th Engineer Port Construction Company. The 747th participated in PHIBTEST from June to October 1952.
After completion of the PHIBTEST, the battalion began to return to a reserve status and was relieved from active duty in September 1953. The battalion was inactivated for the last time on 31 January 1954.
Unit Awards and Decorations
- French Croix de Guerre: 6 June 1944, Department of the Army General Order 43-50, Attached to 29th Infantry Division.
- Occupation Duty – Germany: 2 May-4 Sep 1945.
- Zaloga, pp. 22-24
- ”Order of Battle of the United States Army World War II European Theater of Operations Divisions”
- CARL, AAR 747th Tank Bn, June 1944
- Order of Battle of the U.S. Army, World War II, ETO, pp.5, 18, 124
- CARL, AAR 747th Tank Bn, July 1944
- CARL, AAR 747th Tank Bn, August 1944
- CARL, AAR 747th Tank Bn, September 1944
- Boose, p. 67
- Boose, pp. 313-314
- DA Pam 672-1, p.364
- Blumenson, Martin. Breakout and Pursuit. Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1993. http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/007/7-5-1/CMH_Pub_7-5-1_fixed.pdf
- Boose, Donald W., Jr. Over the Beach: US Army Amphibious Operations in the Korean War. Fort Leavenworth, KS: U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, 2008.
- Cole, Hugh M. The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge. Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1993. http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/007/7-8-1/CMH_Pub_7-8-1.pdf
- Combined Arms Research Library (CARL) Digital Collection.
- - "747th Tank Battalion After Action Report, June 1944-April 1945". http://cgsc.cdmhost.com/cdm/singleitem/collection/p4013coll8/id/3553/rec/6.
- - "Order of battle of the United States Army, World War II, European Theater of Operations, divisions." http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p4013coll8/id/2479/filename/2495.pdf
- - "Unit Journal 741st Tank Battalion". http://cgsc.cdmhost.com/cdm/singleitem/collection/p4013coll8/id/3442/rec/15.
- Harrison, Gordon A. Cross Channel Attack. Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1993.
- Headquarters, Department of the Army. DA Pam 672-1 Unit Citation and Campaign Participation Credit Register. Washington, DC: U.S. Army, July 1961. http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/p672_1.pdf
- Sawicki, James A. Tank Battalions of the U.S. Army. Dumfries, VA: Wyvern Press, 1983. ISBN 0960240454
- U.S. Army Center of Military History, World War II Divisional Combat Chronicles.
- Williams, Mary H. (ed.). Chronology 1941-1945. Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History: 1989
- Yeide, Harry. Steel Victory. New York, NY: Ballentine Books, 2003. ISBN 0891417826
- Zaloga, Steven J. US Tank and Tank Destroyer Battalions in the ETO 1944-1945. Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2005. ISBN 1841767980